Indian media laud shooter Bindra's Olympic feat

Aug. 12, 2008, 3:59 a.m. (ET)

NEW DELHI (AP) Indian media were unstinting in their praise of shooter Abhinav Bindra on Tuesday after he earned the world's second most populous nation its first gold medal in 28 years.

Bindra, who Monday became the first Indian to claim an individual gold medal at an Olympic Games when he won the 10-meter air rifle event at Beijing, was described as "India's Goldfinger" on the front page headline of The Times of India national newspaper.

India's previous eight gold medals came in men's field hockey, the last of which came in 1980.

"Boom-boom Bindra's fired up a nation's imagination and given Indian sport a desperately needed shot in the arm," said The Times of India.

"At last!" sighed the front-page headline in national newspaper the Hindustan Times, which said "Bindra's steely resolve and ability to chart his own course wiped out more than a century of ignominy."

Supported by a father who constructed a shooting range for him to practice at home, Bindra won the world championship 2006, but pulled out of the Asian Games in Doha later that year with a back injury.

Bindra, who shows little emotion, is nicknamed "Constant Comatose" by his friends in the shooting fraternity.

India's top financial newspaper, The Economic Times, put aside its staple of business stories to highlight Bindra's achievement in its leading feature of the day, terming the achievement as "The new gold standard."

"India's first individual gold at the Olympics may just end India Inc's obsession with cricket and bring in the moolah (money) for other sports in the country," said The Economic Times, highlighting the disparity of financial backing between cricket - which has become India's national obsession - and other sporting disciplines.

The Asian Age newspaper acclaimed Bindra as "One in a billion" in its front page headline, while the Indian Express newspaper dubbed him the "Man with the golden gun."

India's previous Olympic hopes rested solely with men's field hockey, a sport it dominated between 1928 and 1956 - winning six successive Olympic titles before being defeated by neighboring Pakistan in the 1960 final. India reclaimed the field hockey gold in 1964, but then had to wait until the boycott-hit games of 1980 for the last of its titles.

India did not make the field hockey semifinals in six successive Olympic Games between 1984 and 2004, and even failed to qualify for Beijing.